"-dozens of eyewitness accounts report suited men and women in the area, including one woman described as, according to Captain Turpin, 'the spitting image of Mercy Graves,' the well-known bodyguard of the accused. We go now live to the steps of City Hall, where Mr. Luthor is making his first official statement on the accusations."
The image on the screen cut to the gray, dreary atmosphere of Metropolis' heart. Hundreds of men and women, cameras mounted on shoulders and microphones reaching out as far as possible, were all bunched up around a podium, where a single man stood. His tanned skin and powerful jawline, his calm professionalism, his cold and intelligent eyes commanded the wills of those watching. His hairless head seemed to shine, slick from the rain falling down on him, but if it bothered him he did not let it show. He raised his hands to calm the clamor of the questioning voices all around him, cleared his throat, and began to speak. His tone was slick, smooth, as if its baritone cords had been greased beforehand.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm certain that I don't need to tell you how shocked I am at the accusations leveled before me. Why, just this morning I was scheduled to meet with my friend, who is… no longer with us. You can only imagine the dreams in that man's head, and the wonderful things he wished to share with us. And now, those dreams shall remain just that. Dreams. Robert Queen was one of my closest friends, and his company is one of LexCorp's most valued trading partners. To be told that people think that I'm the one responsible for his death is…"
Luthor covered his eyes beneath a hand, struggling to maintain his composure.
"…I only agreed to making a statement this morning, so that I could promise you all, in person that WHOEVER the true culprit is, all my resources shall be poured into finding them."
The hand moved away, and clenched into a fist as a tranquil fury burned in the man's eyes.
"And when I do, he will earn the rotting cell a cretin like him deserves!"
The television buzzed as the channel changed away, a gravelly old voice groaning with contempt for the actions on the screen. He was pudgy, and had the sort of newsie's visor that nobody actually wore anymore, and a white apron. He stood inside of a newspaper stand, magazines and tabloids of every sort hanging around. Several tarps and hanging bits of canvas shielded his wheeled little place of business from the rain pouring down. He turned back to the boy standing in front of the stand, shaking his head in disgust.
"Can you believe it?" he asked incredulously. "The things he says, the terrible things he gets away with. Says Queen was his friend—friend of convenience, maybe. Son, have you heard what they say? They say Luthor—his partner at Queen Industries?" The talkative man with his odd accent made a hacking noise as he drew a finger across his throat. "Say that the man—his whole family even—killed! Slaughtered, not a one left! And everyone knows Luthor did it! But claims innocence, oy, the gall of it!"
The man grimaced, looking oddly at the boy. "Hey, I'm sorry, must be rambling again—I know that look in your eye. Wife tells me I ramble. What did you want to buy, son?"
The boy in question was more of a young man. Likely about halfway through his teenage years. He stood just north of six feet, and his Caucasian skin had a healthy tone. What little of it could be seen, that is. He wore baggy blue jeans that almost completely enshrouded the brown old boots he wore, and his maroon hoodie couldn't have been less than three sizes too large. It practically drooped off of his body, and the hood was pulled loosely over his head to shield him from the rain. Messy black hair drifted from beneath the hood, covering up most of his head, down about his large, coarse eyebrows. His face had something of a farmboy's handsomeness to it. A defined, but gentle sort of jawline, with just a bit of an underbite. Just the tiniest of lines formed a slight cleft in his chin. His nose was big, broad, and attention getting, with nostrils to match and a curved bridge. On that bridge rested a thick black frame for eyeglasses, behind which sat his most striking feature. Bright, blue eyes that gleamed like the most beautiful gems.
The boy smiled awkwardly and spoke in a timid, tenor voice. "Uh… just, mm, a copy of the Planet please."
"Of course, of course."
The chubby man reached behind his little counter and snatched up a copy of the Daily Planet, handing it over in exchange for the little pile of change from the boy's hand. He pursed his lips as he examined the young man. "You are new in town? Must be new in town. I do not often get new customers. Tell me your name, son, what is your name?"
"It's, uh, Clark, sir. Clark Kent."
The big man chuckled and smiled warmly, extending his hand. Clark took it very gingerly, and his arm flopped along with the motions of a vigorous handshake. "Wonderful name. My name is Lou Pavarotti. Welcome, welcome to Metropolis Clark! Tell me where you are from?"
His face nervously flinched, but Clark told him "I'm from Kansas. Smallville."
That elicited an uproarious sort of guffaw from Lou. "Funny, son, funny! Where are you really from?"
Clark's eyes quickly dropped to stare intently at his feet. "…Smallville."
"Oh." The man said with a sympathetic sadness in his voice. "I'm sorry. Life in this big city must be, ah, a new experience for you then?"
"Very." Clark admitted with a sigh. He chuckled a bit nervously and admitted, "I've been lost for about an hour now."
"Oof, let me help you. I know this city like the back of my hand—where are you going?"
The boy adjusted his glasses and told him, "Metropolis High. I think I'm late for school…"
He checked his watch and added, "By about an hour and a half."
Lou slapped his head and held up a sausage-like finger. "One moment."
He stepped out the back of his cart and wheeled around a rusty old bicycle, seemingly made less of metal and rubber, and more of paperclips, duct tape, and hope. "It's not much to look at, but faster than walking. Take this road straight two miles, hang a left at Million Avenue, and follow it until you reach Mills and Pomp. Turn right, and you'll see it about a minute later."
Clark meekly took the bike, at a loss for words as he hopped on and got a slap on the back from his newfound friend. "I-I don't know what to say…"
"My mother had a saying, son. 'If you don't know what to say, say nothing!'"
He smiled again, and pushed Clark on his way. "Too many selfish men in this city. Selfish like Luthor. We need something better around here, and, well, if you want to make a change, start with yourself, huh?"
Clark began to pedal away, stopping and looking back. "Oh, will you still be here at three? Or should I bring the bike back tomorrow?"
Lou smiled, dismissing the thought with a wave. "Take it home, keep it, fix it up maybe! Consider it your welcoming gift to Metropolis!"
Clark's nervous expression slowly shifted into a grin that split from ear to ear. "Th-thank you, mister!"
Lou chortled as the boy began to pedal off into the distance. "Good kid. I can tell."
Clark zipped through the streets. Lou had been right. It wasn't any bike built for speed, to be sure, but it was sturdier than it looked. He had made most of the journey now, and wagered he was only a minute or two away from the school. That was when he heard a noise to his right. A scream.
It was a woman, crying out in terror in the alley he had just stopped in front of. He saw her, tears streaming down her face as she attempted to run, being pulled down by her own momentum and the man she was resisting until she was down on her knees. Her left hand was attached like a vice on a black and white purse, gripping the strap with all her might. Struggling against her, griping its flat bottom with both hands was a punkish young man in a leather coat and with bony features. He was grunting and scowling as his foot pressed against the back of her head.
"C'mon, dammit, leggo! I just want yer friggen purse!"
The woman was screaming, and crying, tears blubbering down her face as she fought to get away. "Leave me alone, leave me alone!"
She caught sight of Clark, who was still atop his bike and watching with wide eyes. His mouth was slightly agape. Her face cracked with despair as she begged "Please, help me, stop him!"
The thug saw Clark as well, and reached into his pocket. He pulled a knife. "What're yoo lookin at?!"
Kent was frozen as he watched the scene, his expression flickering. After hesitation that looked like it had lasted an eternity… his face bowed, turning away from the scene. The woman's cries grew louder, more desperate. "Don't let him do this, please!"
The thief only cackled for a second and said, "Yeah, 's'wot I thought."
With a swipe of the knife, he cut the strap of the purse away, and dashed off into the alley. The woman lurched after him on reflex, but only collapsed to the ground, faintly sobbing. Clark could hear her whispering, breathlessly. "That was everything I had…"
She weakly looked back at him and asked, "Why didn't you do anything?"
It was impossible to tell in the rain if the water dripping down his cheeks were tears or not. Only Clark knew. He shook his head. "I'm sorry…"
He began to pedal again, now moving much more slowly towards Metropolis High.
"…and I'm sure you'll notice that, within the text, there are hints given towards every step in how, precisely, he escaped the cell, so in that case Mr. Olsen you're completely—oh?"
The teacher standing in room 404 was a tall man, with balding gray hair flanging out on either side of his head. He wore a brown suit, with a gray scarf around his thin neck. His birdlike nose swung around, seemingly at a slower pace than the rest of his face when he looked towards the door. Clark Kent was standing there, sopping wet and trying to cough as quietly as possible. And failing rather soundly.
"Hmm." The older man grunted, looking towards the clock. 10:47 AM. "My my, it seems our transfer student has decided to join us after all. Class, if you'll close your books for a moment I suppose an introduction is in order."
The nigh-simultaneous sound of twenty books snapping shut made Clark flinch. He saw the teacher wave him in, and he slowly stepped to his side and turned to face his new classmates. The majority reaction seemed to be, in a word, unimpressed. Bored, blank faces stared at him with a distinct lack of interest. He gulped rather visibly, before the hand of the suited man gripped his shoulder.
"To start with, my name is Mr. Norse. Class, I'd like you all to meet your newest classmate, Clark Kent. He's moved a very long way to join us, so I expect you to treat him well. Do you have any words to share, Mr. Kent?"
Clark's mind blanked. It was like asking him to talk to a brick wall. A brick wall that didn't particularly care for his presence. He stammered as some excuse for an introductory speech stumbled from his lips.
"I, uh, my name, that is, is… you already know. Clark. I'm from, well, Kansas, and I like… books? And… stuff?" He turned his head around and said "I think I'd really just like to sit down, Mr. Norse."
The teacher quickly agreed with a single nod, as he class tried to suppress giggles at their newest member's expense. The brown-suited teacher pointed him to an empty desk around the middle of the mass of students, which Clark made a beeline towards. He had no books yet, and had already placed his pack inside his locker. He sat down empty handed, and tried to shrink into his seat as much as was humanly possible. The teacher returned to the lesson he was in the middle of, and a minute or two passed before Clark finally noticed someone was trying to get his attention. One "psst" and a finger poke later, he looked at the boy to his right.
He was a redhead, plain as day, his flaming locks in a shaggy mess and shooting every which way from his scalp. Large, thick sideburns coated the sides of his face, which in and of itself seemed to positively bubble with youth. His face, minus the hair, was as smooth and soft as a child's, and his green eyes seemed to possess something of a fierce quality. His lips were curled into a mischievous sort of grin as he extended a hand, which Clark tentatively took. They shook, and the boy spoke in a raspy voice.
"Hey, great to meetcha, man. I've got an uncle in Kansas."
"James Olsen. Call me Jimmy." The boy explained. "No offense, but you look kinda lost. Like a puppy or something."
Clark averted his eyes, frowning. "Is it that obvious?"
"Worse." He was told. "I take it you've never been in a place like Metropolis?"
"It's completely new to me." Kent told him. "All these buildings, and noises, and people. So much harder to get around. It's… really overwhelming."
Jimmy chuckled, and reached over to pat Clark on the back. "Don't sweat it, dude, that's just the culture shock talking. I know this city like the back of my hand."
The sound of a ringing bell rose the other students from the stupor of their work, quickly hopping up to get ready for their next class. Jimmy did the same, extending a hand for Clark to grab, pulling him out of his seat and directing him out the door. "Tell you what, pal. Stick with me and I'll show ya everything you need to know."